The anime industry continues to live and thrive in the mainstream worldwide, and this year is set to be a tightly packed one for the medium. Demon Slayer season 2 is still in the middle of its run and (possibly) the highly anticipated Chainsaw Man adaptation is on the horizon, but several other studios are lining up the slates for the near future to stay competitive in the market.
Some of the biggest studios in the industry are up to bat, with MAPPA dominating the slate. On top of the usual TV format for most of these 2022 anime, a couple will be movies along with a TV limited series for an interesting change of pace.
Mob Psycho 100 Season 3 (Speculation)
Though writer One is primarily known for his thrilling and subversive One-Punch Man, he has another acclaimed manga under his belt with Mob Psycho 100. It’s an excellent coming-of-age story that gets impressively introspective and emotional while blending stunning supernatural elements and action. The manga concluded fairly recently, but the anime seemed to be on pause after its second season.
Both seasons achieved widespread acclaim as one of the best modern anime adaptations, getting fans expectedly thrilled at its recent season 3 announcement. Mob Psycho 100 wouldn’t have much left to cover to finish the series, as the anime was already entering the final stretch. Given Studio Bones’ previous turnaround from announcement to release, a 2022 air date may come to fruition.
Spy x Family
Weekly Shonen Jump is regarded as the dominant shonen manga magazine, but their digital Jump+ publication has some inventive hits that deserve their share of the spotlight. Spy x Family is among them and is a fairly new one at that, making its quick impact in the medium impressive. As the name suggests, the series is a spy thriller and a comedy, based around a secret agent — Twilight — tasked with forming a fake family for a covert international mission.
The characters are all equally charming in their rights, with each having a secret of their own they’re hiding from the rest of this touching found-family dynamic. In addition to Clover Works, Attack on Titan (seasons 1-3) team Wit Studio will be animating Spy x Family for a slated 2022 premiere.
Golden Kamuy Season 4 (Speculation)
Amid all the shonen, it’ll be great for fans to see the seinen Golden Kamuy anime return for season 4. The manga is gearing up for its climactic finale, and animators Geno Studio have done an admirable job adapting its first three seasons. However, Brain’s Base will take the reins of Golden Kamuy for season 4. Its story is centered around Sugimoto — a Russo-Japanese War veteran — and his friend and treasure hunting partner Asirpa — a native Ainu.
Their group goes searching for a treasure trove, with each character having their motives for hunting down the gold. Golden Kamuy tackles heavy themes, including PTSD, government treatment of downtrodden soldiers, and existentialism. Sugimoto and co.’s character arcs are equal parts tragic, heartfelt, and rewarding when seeing them grow throughout the series.
Attack On Titan Season 4 (2nd Cour)
Attack on Titan became one of the recent generation’s breakout manga and anime series, as it became the go-to anime for audiences that have little to no prior knowledge or interest in the medium altogether. It’s a shonen series, but one that tends to go a bit deeper, more complex, and is more intense than some other typical series of that demographic. Season 4 was released in 2020 to thunderous hype, jumping ahead in the timeline to a psychologically warped Eren Jeager who’s now gone rogue toward his allies.
As was already speculated, there had to have been a continuation of some sort given the pacing of the first cour of the season. The last episode of Attack on Titan‘s first cour had surprising moments, with Eren and his Jeagerists making their plays trumping his former allies in the Paradis military, but not without Pieck making a surprise infiltrated counterattack. Its final cour is currently airing and will finish this year.
Jujutsu Kaisen 0
2020 was massive for MAPPA, with the likes of Attack on Titan season 4 and the underrated Dorohedoro, but Jujutsu Kaisen proved to be one of the next big mainstays in the shonen anime arena. The supernatural and horror-themed action series was praised in large part for its beautifully smooth animation and art style. Narratively, it effectively takes the best parts of previous shonen hits like Naruto and Bleach and focuses on them, while cutting the excess fat and avoiding certain anime tropes that hampered them with bloat. In terms of horror, it also takes the borrows from the best of the Tokyo Ghoul manga.
It seems MAPPA is taking a page from Ufotable’s Demon Slayer approach by continuing Jujutsu first with a movie before season 2. Jujutsu Kaisen 0 was a one-shot manga that served as a prequel to the entire series, introducing future key characters like Yuta Okkotsu. The movie was released in December 2021 but specifically in Japan. There’s not much longer to wait for international fans in the U.S. and Canada, as Jujutsu Kaisen 0 is set for release on March 18th, with tickets going on sale on February 25th.
Vinland Saga Season 2 (Speculation)
The seinen genre/demographic is known for having some critically acclaimed titans like Berserk, Vagabond, and Vinland Saga, but they don’t get as many adaptations in the anime sphere. That’s part of why the latter’s adaptation by former Attack on Titan studio Wit came as such a welcome change of pace.
Vinland Saga is a historical fiction series set during the age of Vikings, and it delves into heavy themes like the purpose of life, defining one’s purpose with vengeance, and commentary on what it is to achieve peace along with the question of whether violent means justify a possible end. It’s been over two years since the first season’s debut, with confirmation only just coming this year for season 2, on top of a trailer. While no firm release date is attached, the timing of the announcement and trailer signal to 2022.
Made In Abyss Season 2
It’s been a long time coming, but Made in Abyss is also getting its second season in 2022 after the first season premiered back in 2017. There was a sequel anime movie that was released sometime after, but another serialized continuation of the story will be welcomed by fans.
Made in Abyss made an impression in the manga and on a wider audience in anime form for being a series with a deeply emotional premise with excellent worldbuilding, namely in the mystery behind the titular Abyss and what lies deeper in it. It uses character designs that look innocent and playful, but manage to convey heavy themes mixed with intense, and even terror-inducing action, all the while maintaining a wonderfully adventurous atmosphere.
Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero
The Dragon Ball franchise relatively recently started making its movies canon, starting with Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods. Most recently, Dragon Ball Super specifically got its first movie released to strong critical reception and featured the welcome introduction of fan-favorite Broly into the official canon.
Toei Animation announced earlier this year that Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero would release in 2022 as a direct sequel to Broly, and will even feature the character. It’s also been noted that it takes place before the current arc happening in the Dragon Ball Super manga. The early look could be promising, and it’ll need to make good on the early promise with the movie opting for the controversial CG animation style.
While the game launched in a disastrous state, Cyberpunk 2077 is looking to expand its franchise even further out of gaming itself. Netflix and CD Projekt Red are partnering up for an anime called Cyberpunk Edgerunners, animated by Studio Trigger.
The story won’t be an adaptation of the game’s story, instead favoring a single-season limited series anime format consisting of 10 episodes and an original, standalone plot and characters. It’s a logical choice, as the world of this franchise invites the telling of different stories from different perspectives. Having Trigger behind this adaptation is a big selling point, especially since its director and assistant director–Hiroyuki Imaishi and Masahiko Otsuka–have worked on big-name anime like Kill la Kill, Promare, and modern classic Gurren Lagann.
JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stone Ocean
This franchise has been steadily booming in popularity since Part One of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure broke into the mainstream. Fans have been pining for any update, let alone a release, on Part Six since Golden Wind concluded its anime adaptation two years ago, and the newest season, Stone Ocean, is finally here.
It’s another technicality like Jujutsu Kaisen 0 in terms of release window, as it was also released in December 2021. However, the first 12 episodes were released on Netflix in one batch, meaning future episodes will bleed into 2022. Jolyne Cujoh and her crew will finally see an adaptation, with this Joestar member being another fan-favorite protagonist. Fans will also see the return of Jotaro Kujo in another supporting role capacity akin to Diamond is Unbreakable.
Sports manga and anime also have their hall of fame with classics like Slam Dunk and Hajime no Ippo. Haikyuu!! is another more recent one. The manga for the latter ended in 2020, but the anime is still adapting (presumably). But another up-and-comer could be the anime for Blue Lock. This adaptation centers around European football/soccer and the manga conveniently started right after the real-world 2018 World Cup in France ended.
It’s been gathering a large and constantly increasing fan base, with millions of volumes already sold. Unlike Haikyuu!!, Blue Lock doesn’t incorporate “slice of life” elements and leans heavily into aggressive action. While it sometimes falls into unfortunately generic anime trope traps, it also manages to use its over-the-top action to embrace others in a carefree manner that proves thrilling and cathartic.
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